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polarsusd81

Aquarium algae control?

16 posts in this topic

So my son got an aquarium for his birthday a two months ago and it seems like there is an abnormal amount of algae growth. I have cleaned it once about 3 1/2 weeks ago and it was pretty bad at that time. I am getting ready to clean it again tonight, but I am wondering if there are any tips or things I can do to prevent the algae from coming back so quick? I do not yet have one of the algae eater suckers in there but I do plan to pick one up soon. I the last time I tried some algae control tablets that fizzled like an alka-seltzer and it didn't really seam to do anything. If anyone has any tips I would greatly appreciated it.

Thanks much.

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Sounds like a light problem--too much--is it getting natural sunlight?? Bulbs on too long??

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I was just reading on an aquarium site, I think the lights may have been on a little long a couple times. I will pay a bit more attention to the light timing and add one of the algae suckers. I think that will help a bit. It doesn't get any natural sunlight luckily.

Thanks for the help.

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A Plecostomus (algae eating fish) will make a big difference. With a new aquarium you need to wait until you have algae growth before adding an algae eater. Looks like it's time. Algae growth is normal

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If the tank is that young, and is already getting that much algae, it is getting to much light. Any exposure to natural light is going to grow it, as well as the light being on for to long. Regular partial water changes, and a clean bottom are the most effective response, after controling the exposure to light. Don't count on a "silver bullet" over the counter product.

The best fish for algae control that won't be a problem in a small fish community are called "Ottocinclus".

/Pet business. Many, many years

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Algae in aquariums comes from a combination of 3 sources: too much light, excess nitrates, and excess phosphates.

What size tank is it and how many fish do you have?

Is your son feeding the fish? Are there too many fish? Those two sources would cause the excess nitrate. You want to make sure that no fish food gets to the bottom of the tank and settles in the gravel. You can buy a gravel vacuum at a pet store, it is basically a tube connected to a siphon, use it when you make your water changes....which can be 20% of the total water at least once a month, or often as twice a week, make sure you use a product to remove chlorine if you are on city water.

If you don't have live plants you can have the light on for as little time as you would like. If it is getting no natural light, then the algae needs your light to live. I would cut it back drastically until the problem goes away. If it is a problem of just forgetting to turn it off, buy a cheap timer and set it for less than 10 hours a day.

Phosphates come from poor water from the tap, which some people deal with buy buying filtered water. That is a pain and expensive. Most pet stores will test water for phosphates and excess nitrates, just bring in a cup of water to them.

Is the algae a green slime that covers everything, smells awful, and comes back right of way? If that is the case make sure you remove it right of way after you scrape it. The scraping should happen with a water change, just suck the stuff up with a gravel vacuum. If you leave it in there after scraping it will just feed future algae growth because it is now going to add more nitrates. If it is hair algae, stringy and green - it is definitely too much light, and not enough water flow.

If it is a brown film that grows on the glass, you are in luck. It goes away quickly, and is common in new tanks. Algae eaters are good at keeping it in check. They will not touch the two types I mentioned above. Algae eaters can do well, but keep a few things in mind. First, the common pleco - which is what most people have, gets huge. So, you have a fish that eats a lot of plant matter, which causes a lot of waste, so they put back as much as they take out. Try getting a few otocinclus (pet store will know), which are small and do well. You can also buy a few other types of plecostomus - and pay a little more than a common type. I would suggest a clown or bushnose pleco. You can spend up to $50 bucks on different algae eaters (believe it or not, there are hundreds of types of plecostomus), which is definitely not necessary, $10 or less should do for the two I mentioned.

The algae tabs you mentioned are pretty worthless. I worked in aquarium stores for over ten years, and did not see much for results with them. It is not a magic cure, and the only value I ever saw was trying to keep the stuff from growing back.

Sorry, this got long winded. It can be summed up quickly I guess: turn off the lights, and cut your feeding in half.

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Good advice from irving. A Pleco or Otocinclus catfish will go a long way and are hospitable with about anything.

Reduce the sunlight, if its a young tank being able to test your water will go a long way. You can teach Jr. about the nitrogen cycle...it could be adding nutrients to those plants allowing them to take off.

Like irving said, regular partial water changes and a clean bottom go a long way towards preventing many problems. Just maintain those same cleaning habits with the tank to keep everything in balance.

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Sounds good guys. Thanks for all the advice. Right now I think we are a little under staffed on fish, there are only 10 small fish in the 16 gallon tank. Right now we have two Turquois Guppies, six Neon Tetras, and two small silver sharks I think. I think the Otocinclus catfish would make a good fit in the tank. As far as teaching him the nitrogen cycle, that might have to wait a bit. He is only two so he wont understand it quite yet. He does love to feed the fish, but I don't let him do it alone.

As of right now, I am going to chalk it up to too much light and I will keep a better eye on the times the light is on.

Between the advice of Irving and Rooster, it sounds like we have a couple of true experts on board. Thanks a ton guys. By the way, it is the brown film algae that was growing on the glass, and a pretty good amount on some areas of the rocks. Got it all cleaned up now and it looks like it is good to go.

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If you go with the Otocinclus cats it is a good idea to ask the pet store how long they have had them. If they just received them in a shipment in the past few days you may want to wait. They do not always do well going through the wholesale process. They are a very hearty fish otherwise. That bit of advice should go for all fish I guess. Two or three should suffice.

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You can pick up a cheap timer from Target for around 10 bucks. It is best to keep your fish on a similar light cycle. Chinese algae eaters work well too. Nasty buggers to catch though. They are fast and evasive. Ploclostomus are so ugly.

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One thing I did when I had tanks was to buy the cheap light timers. Then plug your light into that and have it come on at a certain time and off at bedtime. Algea eaters and a couple of snails are a must in those tanks.

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You said you have 2 silver sharks, do you mean you have two bala sharks? I have 3 balas in a 30 gallon tank and that tank is WAY too small. Unless you are going to stunt their growth you will want those sharks in a way bigger tank. My sharks in 2 year have grown to almost 8 inches. I only feed them around every 4 or 5 days. They LOVE blood worms. In a 16 gallon tank you may want to go with smaller fish. They can grow to almost 16 inches. And they LOVE to jump. I can not walk by the tank in the dark or they will break everything in the tank. Watch them if you open the top.

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Brown algae is caused by over load of nutrients, low light and/or low oxygen levels. I'd bet on number 1 and number three. Not sure what type of filtration you are using but I'd recommend adding a sponge filter and some more aeration. As for adding algae eaters I prefer clown plecos over Otos and regular Plecos. The clowns stay small are really keep a tank in order. The regular Plecos get large and lazy and Otos will eat algae but don't do much in consuming excessive fishfood - and there is always some excess.

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Not sure what type of sharks they are but they are only about 1 1/2" long. I will have to head to a pet store to see what they have and get a couple Plecos I think.

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I had a pleco and a few corydoras (sp?) My tank was always clean. Also, they make a magnetic brush that has a brillo pad substance that you control from the outside of the glass (magnets connect and it scrubs the inside wall).

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Be carefull of the plecos also, not only can they be very agressive, mine has sucked most of the scales of goldfish when he was small, but plecos also grow extremely large. My pleco has grown from around 3" to now 2 years later he is roughly 10". They can grow to over 2 feet long. Farmers use them in horse troughs to eat the algea. I believe that clowns might stay smaller and better fit your 16 gallon. And please do check if you have bala sharks. It hurts me to think of local pet stores selling these into small tanks with out telling you of their potential size. Stunting their growth is really bad for their health.

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